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{November 2004}

Since “every jackass has his own opinion” (Plato), I am compelled to accept my responsibility as a jackass (or elephant?) and put my 2 cents in as well. I don’t honestly care whom you vote for personally, and there are good reasons to vote for or against ANY of the candidates. And at the risk of offending some people’s sense of patriotism, I will say that there are even good reasons not to vote at all. And although I certainly will not tell anyone who they should vote for, I cannot remain silent on all the muddy thinking (or lack of any thereof) that permeates the airwaves, discussion forums, and even our living rooms. What I am about to say if what I believe to be REALLY going on, brushing away all the conspiracy theories and over-simplified interpretations of what will soon be history.

But don’t make assumptions about whom I will vote for, as I am not so sure myself. I am considered a liberal, am a registered Republican, am affiliated with Libertarians, and vote across all party lines, or often not at all if I don’t know the difference between candidates. In this election, the curtain has not yet closed for me. And don’t take offense if you think I must be a moron to not accept the “facts” you may be acquainted with, or if I have vastly different information and conclusions of my own. But here I stand in all honesty, having attempted to observe and accurately remember all that has been going on, along with deciphering all the news and bickering and such. Frankly, I have never given so much thought to politics, and have never been so appalled. It find it cumbersome to think about, and awkward to discuss, but that never stopped me before. Shall we begin?

Homeland Safety & Personal Freedoms

We have never been safer. Ridiculous? Yeah, and we were SO safe, not worried at all since the Cold War, that our guard was down enough to not go after “Osama and Company” BEFORE 911. We ignored acts of terrorism across the globe. Nice job, but no longer. It wasn’t necessarily Clinton’s fault when it was all being planned and he didn’t even nab Bin Laden when he had 3 chances, and obviously not only Bush’s fault, as he had only gotten into office that year. It’s AMERICA’s fault. Now we are on guard like never before, and that’s why we’ve never been safer. We’re actually paying attention and going after the bad guys for once. Which again, isn’t credit to Bush or Rumsfeld, but to America.

And if the Patriot Act is a step in the wrong direction, it will be contested in the courts. I for one have not read of a single instance of broken civil liberties because of it – only abuses that occurred just as often before the Act and countless urban-legend rumors. I’m dead serious about this! After 911, I watched and waited with held breath for martial law or some breach of freedom, and apart from the imaginations of some, it simply never happened. But I’ll keep watching. After all, smoking is slowly becoming illegal, among so many other little laws we begged the government to pass against our own liberties. But that’s a whole other discussion.

The Economy & Tax Cuts

The economy has never bounced back this so quickly after such disasters, namely in this case the Tech Bubble Burst and 911. It is nothing short of miraculous. And the only reason growth is slowing down again is because the Reserve is loosening interest rates again. If you believe the economy had not bounced back, you are obviously not a financial planner or an investor, or cannot accept such good news under a president you don’t like. But again, people like Greenspan have more to do with that than any president, although there is no doubt in my mind that it had something to do with the tax cuts (which effected just about EVERYBODY, and not some fictitious 4% of the rich, a typical slogan that seldom has any basis in reality always used referring to any tax cut). <brag> In fact, when I heard about the cuts, I correctly predicted when business would pick up again, and I was dead on. </brag>

The Deficit

I remember growing up in grade school hearing about how the deficit was out of control and Social Security would be gone by now, yadda, yadda. We hit hard times, and instead of taxing the people into poverty and taxing more businesses (the big bad evil rich people who are responsible for most economic growth and stability) into moving overseas, we lowered taxes and went into debt. Cheating our grandchildren, or buying us some time? Again, I’ve seen it before, and I’m not that old. Deficits will come and go, and we don’t have to like it, but it’s not quite a deal with the devil either.

Military Intervention

We are THE world power, militarily and economically. We share third world burdens, and intervene when countries can’t handle their own affairs. We are meddlers and saviors, bullies and allies. We keep our national interests at heart (as if we could or should do otherwise) and call it humanitarianism and a “War on Terror”. A few dictators fall, and developing global alliances apart from a possibly inept United Nations makes us the bad guy to the rest of the world. But in or out of the UN, the budget for protecting and saving the world is mostly us anyway.

With great power comes great responsibility, and our job is not to be liked, especially if they’re not going to like us anyway. If extreme liberals want to pay the Dane geld and forgive the occasional plane hitting a building or two, tell them to move to France or Spain, where they think WWII was one with picket signs and “understanding” the enemy. But I take it a step further and say why didn’t we topple Hussein SOONER? Or North Korea? Or Sudan, the current ethnic cleansing capital of the world? I almost wish they all had oil. Then maybe we’d step in there, too. At least for payback for our efforts Haliburton is an American copmany, as wrong as all that is otherwise.

The Environment

Everyone has assumptions about Bush being anti-environmental because he is a Republican or whatever. Personally, I could prove in a court of law that a vast number of commonly held environmentalist beliefs are based on facts that are wrong. I was in the plastics industry and turned in any hopes of joining Greenpeace when I learned the truth, and ditto to wackos like PETA when I married a knowledgeable veterinary outpatient nurse. For heaven’s sake, people still believe the hole in the ozone layer is from pollution. We’re not perfect as a nation, but poor managing of resources for a few years, if that’s even what happened, will revert the other direction and back again, as usual. I consider myself realistically optimistic.

War Records

Who cares? Hitler was a vet who didn’t go AWOL and wasn’t a draftee who exaggerated their medals after disgracing the flag, but I aint casting a write-in vote for him. There are vets on both sides – get over it – and my apologies to those who are so emotionally attached to a traumatic time in their lives to actually think I’m disrespectful in saying this.

The Problem

The problem is that in an effort to win an election against an originally highly approved of incumbent, three years of conspiracies, urban legends, and insinuations repeated like mantras had to become mainstream. No wonder the Democrats chose and extremist as their man. And I think his “flip-flopping” is nothing more than the usual keeping everyone happy in spite of what he really represents, whatever that is.

I don’t fault the left-Democrats-whomever for doing this (all is fair in politics?), and would have assumed the right-Republican-whomever would do the same if the tables were turned, but strangely in the recent past they did not. In fact, when Clinton was in office, “they” (whoever they are) cleverly turned repeated acts that were little short of outright treason into a witch-hunt for kneepad marks on the oval office carpet. It was clever, and some of us used our brains and saw it for what it was – a diversion. The point is that I saw too many really important accusations and news stories get swept under the carpet, unaddressed and forgotten. Doing evil deeds is one thing, but brainwashing a nation into not seeing them after they happen makes me mad, sad, and scared.

And now we can’t stop talking enough about our President’s likeness to an emperor, or Hitler, or the anti-Christ, picking apart anything that could have possibly been seen as a mistake whether he had anything to do with it or not. I’m sure he’s not the saint he needs to convince the public he is, but the vast majority of accusations I have found through actually thinking about them to be propaganda. If you’re going to hate the man for things he actually may have (or have not) done, or what he represents, DON”T VOTE FOR HIM. But crying foul of a man that has not actually yet been caught in a real honest-to-goodness lie puts him either a better man or better liar than most politicians of any age.

On the other side, if you don’t like what sort of politics Kerry represents – not forgetting that he is also not immune to crowd-pleasing before an election and then doing what he wants – DON’T VOTE FOR HIM.

And if you exercise your right to vote (or not to vote – this is a free country after all), don’t use the excuse that such-and-such will win anyway and not vote your conscience, even if it’s a “hopeless” third party. At least then your conscience can be clean on the matter.

The Conclusion (And Sorry to Disappoint You But There Isn’t One)

Plagiarizing a saying that has been attributed to more than author, it is not so much the events of our time that bother me so much as how I perceive them. Or rather, how America sees them. Sometimes I wonder if the general public was even present during the last 20 years, as we have forgotten the facts and bought into revisionist history in a span of months before our very eyes. I see nothing but poorly drawn conclusions from speculative facts becoming common knowledge to the point that extremism is the dance of the day, and even polarization of ideas is blamed on the president instead of on the ones who started the mudslinging. And most of these people are either too apathetic to vote, or worse yet have no business voting apart from the letter of the law, but will vote anyway with insistent ignorance or contagious spoon-fed opinions. And THAT scares me more than any of the presidential candidates.

Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world. – Thomas Carlyle

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. – Thomas Jefferson

{related entry: My Personal State of America Address}